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Energize Your Application with New Capabilities Using IBM Cloud

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New app modernization capabilities with IBM Cloud

At IBM Cloud, we’re proud of how we’ve provided cutting-edge technology to businesses over the years. We set the pace for our customers’ technologies so that they can take advantage of the head start they get from our solutions to quickly deliver technology value to their business. Our roadmaps say when we’ll add new capabilities to our products so customers can anticipate when a desired feature will be included in an upgrade. Even more, the application modernization section of the IBM Cloud Architecture Center gives great ideas on ways to modernize applications using architectural approaches.

As an executive architect in the IBM Cloud Garage, Tony makes sure that he takes advantage of that head start when extends it for a Cloud Garage solution. And as an application architect in Global Business Services, Bikram ensures that the applications he develops take full advantage of the capabilities that reside under a product suite.

We both see that as time goes on, new capabilities emerge ever more quickly. IBM continues to excel to here, with leading-edge offerings in Artificial Intelligence, Analytics, Blockchain, Security, and many others, all delivered using an Agile fashion through the Garage Method and Hybrid Cloud levels of service. These are exciting technologies that can transform the way you do business.

What if you want to take advantage of new capabilities, but you aren’t sure how to proceed? How do you manage the risk of change to enterprise systems against the potential payoff for a new capability?

Serious solutions for important work

The size and function of enterprise systems can make them a bit intimidating. After all, hundreds of people (or more) use them every day. The business depends on them. They have to be resilient and responsive, and there are usually large teams of people who maintain them. These are serious systems, and changing them adds a certain amount of risk.

This risk is made worse if you have to spend a lot of money or time to provision the environments to see something work. Your good idea can die of old age if you have to set everything up before you can even try it out. And “setting it up” can mean a lot of things. For example, provisioning a Virtual Machine might get you started, but that can still leave a lot of time and configuration before you get something you can use.

One way to proceed is to start small. It’s nice to break off just a little piece to see if it will work before you get started. As the name suggests, a lot of customers have decided that a “micro” service is a good tool to chip away at the enterprise mountain. The key is to ensure that the microservice is as solid, resilient, and scalable as the rest of the enterprise solution.

Modern architecture (no, not that kind…)

The application modernization section of the Architecture Center talks about ways to start adding microservices to the application, and we think that’s an excellent way to start. The risk is small and many installed IBM products already have good extension points—incremental change potential is built in. On the Cloud side, IBM’s pay-as-you-go pricing and free tiers let you try things out as part of a hypothesis and see if you will like it. But the payoff is big when your success is realized.

And when your idea does take off, the IBM Cloud can scale along with your growth curve. IBM Cloud provides both Cloud Foundry and Docker/Kubernetes scaling for the containers, and the service endpoints for databases or as-a-service endpoints have high availability and security built in. The cloud services and containers that IBM Cloud provides ensure that your microservice isn’t just some ad-hoc addition—it is a fully capable extension to the core enterprise solution. Of course, if you have a great idea but aren’t sure how to proceed, the IBM Cloud Garage can help. We do this all the time and have moved all kinds of customers into the innovation zone. Our design thinking approach coupled with the Garage Method can help you get your idea off the ground in a matter of weeks.

Easy start: IBM Portal (it’s built for integration)

IBM Portal is a great example to start because it’s already designed to be extensible. By definition, it integrates as the central point of your enterprise; it is the Portal to your company’s IT universe. We’ve used Portal for years, and its flexibility makes it an excellent representative app to get started, but there are lots of others, including almost any WebSphere-family product, all kinds of .Net solutions, Mobile solutions, and just about any place you could insert a REST endpoint.

Our example will add a script portlet that connects to the IBM Cloud Weather service. Bikram is the host for the how-to video that accompanies our github example. It’s a good place to start for the overview and for the artifacts that will get you started to try it out.

Take a REST in a secure place

The security and resilience of Portal are without question, but here are some highlights about the solution to make sure each maintains that level:

  • Mutual authentication—with https-only as the endpoint for the REST service, mutual authentication helps to ensure that our cloud service will only talk to our Portal host
  • REST endpoints are invoked from Javascript through the servlet, which prevents cross-site scripting problems
  • Security in flight (SSL) and at rest, with encryption for all service endpoints
  • An on-cloud AppID service to help ensure SSO between your portal endpoints and the cloud

Extend almost any app to a cloud endpoint

We showed an easy example, but these techniques can be used to extend almost any app to a cloud endpoint. By using REST, security at rest and in flight, and mutual authentication, you can ensure that your new endpoint is a top-tier addition to your enterprise. With this in mind, you can break off a small piece of your application and add in a resilient, secure microservice. It’s taking a good solution and making it even better by making it able to keep up with changes in our fast-moving technology field.

If you are interested to see how the Garage can help your business, schedule a four-hour, cost-free talk with an expert here.

References

Executive Architect, Cloud Garage

Bikram Naha

Application Architect – Global Business Services

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